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Global slowdown threatens Central Asian growth

28 February 2013

www.zawya.com of 2/28/2013 - [Abstract.  Read full article here]

Central Asia will outperform other Eurasian regions in 2013, although growth is slowing, according to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

"In most of Central Asia, economic growth continued decelerating in response to the global economic slowdown, combined with one-off exogenous factors (including poor agricultural harvests and a gold mine strike in the Kyrgyz Republic)," said the EBRD in its 2013 outlook for the emerging economies in the wider Europe-Asia region that it covers.
"Turkmenistan continues to experience a buoyant economic expansion with GDP growth of 14.7% in 2011 and around 11% in 2012, driven by large public construction projects and increased gas exports to China and Iran," said the EBRD.
...Kazakhstan (6% GDP growth) and Uzbekistan (7%) are also expected to post impressive growth compared to their regional counterparts, although external factors will likely dampen the exuberance of most Central Asian economies.
But there are signs that the wider region is bottoming out and it will lift growth across the wider geographical area.
"Growth in the transition region continued to slow down in the third quarter of 2012, but the deceleration is showing signs of bottoming out," said the EBRD.
"We estimate that GDP growth in the transition region has dropped to 2.6% last year from 4.6% cent in 2011 and will moderately rise to 3.1% this year. Downside risks to the outlook have continued to recede as the likelihood of further deterioration of the Eurozone crisis diminishes."

Keeping unemployment in check
Most importantly, unemployment levels in Central Asia remain in single-digits, compared to other places in the wider Eurasian region.
Unemployment in places like Tajikistan (2.5%) and Kazakhstan (5.3%) are manageable, compared to the high double-digits joblessness rates in emerging South Eastern Europe states and Central European economies.


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